Sex offender drops appeal bid after being threatened with Christmas in prison

Paul Smith was jailed for attacking a grandfather in a pub PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Paul Smith was jailed for attacking a grandfather in a pub PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

A sex offender has dropped his bid to appeal against his conviction after being threatened with spending Christmas in jail.

Robert Sandiford pleaded guilty to a sexual assault in December 2017, and was given a community order at Norwich Crown Court.

But since then he has repeatedly breached the order by refusing to engage with probation officers, claiming his conviction was "unjust".

He had told the probation service he plans to appeal the conviction, and his breaches have been punished with a suspended sentence for eight months and an order to complete the Horizon programme for sex offenders.

Norwich Crown Court heard on Monday Sandiford had again failed to attend appointments, despite being told by a judge if he did so again he would go to prison.

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Andrew Oliver, prosecuting, told the court: "At this court on December 1, 2017, a community order was imposed for the sexual assault. That order was breached which resulted in the imposition of a suspended sentence on January 24.

"That order was then breached on July 23 but allowed to continue with 10 additional rehabilitation days.

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"It was an eight month suspended sentence for two years with requirements to complete the Horizon programme.

"He has said he is not subject to do so because his sentence was unjust. He said he has been unfairly treated, his case wasn't dealt with properly and it wasn't reasonable for him to attend probation because he was appealing his sentence.

"He appears to want to spend his time in supervision saying how wrong the criminal justice system is.

"On the last occasion he had a judge informing him if he fails again he will go to prison."

Stephen Mather, mitigating, asked the court to give Sandiford "one last chance".

"He is someone who is obsessed with what he perceives to be a lack of justice," he said. "He seems to think any appeal should be decided first. Everything seems to stream from this mistaken belief."

Judge Andrew Shaw adjourned the case to give Sandiford time to reconsider.

"In 2017 he was convicted by his own plea," he said. "I am not the Court of Appeal but I have some confidence he will not be given permission to appeal 11 months out of time.

"This is not going to go away so he can either spend the next few weeks, including Christmas, in prison, or he can realise he is playing a game with the court he can't win."

After a brief conference with his counsel, Sandiford, 29, changed his mind.

"He tells me he now understands and he will abandon any attempt to appeal his sentence," said Mr Mather. "He asks your Honour to be lenient and be permitted to continue the order."

Judge Shaw gave Sandiford, of Calthorpe Road, Norwich, 40 hours of unpaid work on top of his suspended sentence, telling Sandiford there was now "zero tolerance" for failure.

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